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Celebrating India globally: MIT India Conference to build on ‘Startup India’ initiative

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Startup India
Image source: huffingtonpost.in

Washington: Celebrating India’s achievements, the MIT India Conference will focus on how to create a thriving startup ecosystem in India to put Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Startup India” initiative into action.

Organized by the MIT Sloan School of Management in collaboration with the greater MIT community in Cambridge, Massachusetts on April 3, the conference plans to address all levels of entrepreneurship, according to a media release.

These include from scaling startups and addressing the challenges early startups face to social endeavours and sustainability.

With the “Startup India” initiative receiving a five-fold increase in its funding along with government plans to open new startup incubators, the objective becomes how best to sustain and build off of this momentum, it said.

This year’s conference will also feature a showcase of innovative projects being developed by MIT students and researchers with potential application for India.

The MIT India Conference aims to celebrate the achievements of India globally, as well as discuss future collaborations between India and the world that could help accelerate innovation into the future. The MIT-India conference has established itself as an important forum for leaders in industry, academia, and policy to discuss current issues and future innovations in the context of India, in the region and abroad, the release said.

Slated speakers and panellists include Arvind Subramanian, Chief Economic Adviser, Government of India; Mukesh Aghi, President, US-India Business Council; Gururaj Deshpande, Founder-Chairman, Sycamore Networks and Ashish Hemrajani, Founder-CEO, BookMyShow.com.

Others include Sorin Grama, Founder-CTO, Promethean Power Systems; Nishant Rao, COO, Freshdesk; Vivek Prabhakar, Founder-CEO, Chumbak; Anuradha Acharya, Founder-CEO, MapMyGenome India; Akash Bhatia: Founder-CEO, Infinite Analytics; Venkat Maroju, CEO, SourceTrace Systems; Anjana Reddy, MD, Universal Sportsbiz Pvt. Ltd and Zenobia Moochhala, Co-Founder, Care.com. (Arun Kumar, IANS)

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Innovation and Startup Culture Thriving in Ghana

Ghana is seeing a spurt in Innovation & Technology

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A worker using his innovation inside Nelson Boateng's Nelplast Factory
Inside Nelson Boateng's Nelplast Factory in the outskirts of Accra, Ghana, a worker creates bricks from recycled plastic and sand. VOA

ACCRA – Ghana is regarded as a West African hub of invention, with growing numbers of young people looking at local solutions to local problems.  In December, Ghana is hosting two conferences on innovation and technology.

Alhassan Baba Muniru, co-founder of the Recycle Up company, wants to clean up the natural environment in Ghana.

But he also wants to educate, empower and support young people to pursue conservation – and to make money while doing it.

At the December Innovation Africa summit in Accra, he plans to advocate for more support for young inventors, especially those looking to do green business.

“Even while we are in school we are already entrepreneurial so, for me, I can be able to do a formal job but the freedom of being able to bring my own ideas into action and really take charge of doing something practical and something which also makes society better – it’s much more fulfilling,” said Muniru.

Alhassan Baba Muniro talking about Innovation
Alhassan Baba Muniro wants to clean up and create jobs for young people. VOA

Part of Recycle Up’s work includes collecting plastic from schools to sell to people like Nelson Boateng, whose company mixes it with sand to create bricks.

Muniru and Boateng walk through the factory in the outskirts of Accra, where plastic from across the city is shredded, melted, mixed and then molded into bricks to be used for roads, pavements and buildings.

Boateng, who also manufactures plastic bags, said the bricks are his way of helping to clean up the environment and to provide jobs.

But while Ghana is seeing a spurt in innovation, he said the country needs a lot more infrastructure to support environmentally-friendly business.

“For innovations in Ghana, it’s very, very difficult if you don’t really have the heart.  You will lose hope because honestly speaking when I was doing my polybag that is polluting the environment, I was having a lot of money.  I have money, there wasn’t any problem. When I started this, when you go to the bank they don’t know this, they want something that the money will be flowing, not something you people don’t know –  and not something you say you are trying to save the environment, nobody will mind you on that,” he said.

Supporting local technology startups is expected to be discussed at another December conference in Accra – the second annual Ghana Tech Summit.

ALSO READ: India: Innovation Holds the Key to Job Crisis.

Ghanaian inventor Andrew Quao is working to ease the burden on hospitals with technology that allows pharmacies to diagnosis and monitor chronic and tropical diseases.

Andrew Quao, Co-founder of 'Red Birds' helps in innovation and startup.
Andrew Quao, Co-founder of healthcare tech startup ‘Red Birds’ works with pharmacies across Ghana. VOA

He said African healthcare sectors like Ghana’s are ripe for innovative solutions.

“I think it is growing in the right direction, I think the climate is good, you have got a good mix of local talent and experience and expats coming in and seeing Ghana as a good point to start, so that also works.  We have the ‘brain gain.’ The diasporans – people like myself who schooled in the U.S. – coming back and trying to bring innovations in country,” said Quao.

While both public and private sectors are backing innovation, entrepreneurs hope to see a swell of support from the Innovation Africa and Ghana Tech summits. (VOA)